http://havanajournal.com/business/entry/texas-business-delegation-to-visit-cuba-first-time-since-1960s/

HavanaJournal.com: Cuba Business

Texas business delegation to visit Cuba, first time since 1960s

Posted May 14, 2008 by publisher in Cuba Business.
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By Brandi Hart | McKinney Courier-Gazette

Frank Walker Sr. of McKinney is joining a group of 23 Texans that include food manufacturer representatives and officials with the Texas Department of Agriculture and the Texas Farm Bureau who will visit Cuba this month to try open trade with the country’s government officials.

Walker, president of Walker LTD, a local food manufacturer representative company, will travel to Havana, Cuba from May 26 to May 31. He will meet with Cuban governmental officials and will represent a sausage manufacturer based in Ponder, a dessert manufacturer based in Humble and a manufacture of frozen, custom ethnic entrees’, soups and vegetables based in McKinney, and discuss selling those companies’ products.

This will be Walker’s first visit to Cuba, which he is looking forward to as he is hoping to observe Cuban food manufacturers. Walker also hopees to get a taste of the Cuban cuisine as his clients will tailor their products for the Cuban citizen.

He is expecting to meet with four to five food manufacturers representatives per day during his trip, Walker said.

“We already know who we’re competing against. Cuba does a lot of business with South American countries who sell chicken, sausage and Asian countries who sell rice,” Walker said.

Walker, who is also a member of the McKinney Rotary Club, also hopes to sell flour-based pasta products to the Cuban government to help offset the high cost of rice in the country, Walker said.

“Look what’s going on in the rice industry worldwide,” Walker said. “The price is rising because of the cost to transport products and high gas prices, and America’s insatiable appetite for fuel.”

The Cuban government will pay cash for products, which it serves to its population of about 1.2 million, Walker said. If America were to open up trade in Cuba, the population of the country would probably have a middle class, Walker said.

Cuba also opened up huge deposits of off-shore oil sources two years ago and he is guessing that the United States will not be one of the countries that Cuba will sell oil to, Walker said.

“It probably won’t be the United States because of our lack of open trade policies with Cuba,” Walker said. “Cuba was one of the original members of the World Trade Organization.”

Getting the chance to meet Raul Castro, the current president of the Cuban Council of State, and his brother, former Cuban President Fidel Castro, wouldn’t be bad either.

“I’m hoping to meet Raul Castro and to get my picture taken with him and his brother,” Walker said.

Walker will join the following Texans on his trip to Cuba:

Todd Staples, the commissioner of the Texas Department of Agriculture

Kelley Stripling, senior advisor of the TDOA

Mary Theresa Ovalle, director of international marketing of the TDOA

Cary Pupuy, governmental liaison of the TDOA

C. Parr Rosson, director of Texas A & M University’s Center for North American Studies

Cynthia Thomas, delegation leader of TriDimension Strategies, LLC

Stephen Pringle, Gus Glen Jones, Jr., Kenneth Dierschke, Billy Brown, Raymond Meyer, Dan Shelton, Gary McGehee, all of the Texas Farm Bureau

John Chumbley, president of Dorchester Grain

Samuel Brian McCuistion, general manager of the Planters Coop

Louis Broussard, president of Beaumont Rice Mill

Rosalee King Coleman, vice president of Independent Cattlemen’s Association of Texas

Ernest Bezdek, director of trade development of Port of Beaumont

Michael David Perez, director of business operations of Port of Corpus Christi

Michael Edward, director of trade development of the Port of Freeport

Dale Grounds, president of Paul Reinhart, Inc, a cotton exporter

Michelle Tubilla, president of Moose Milk

Karen Provost, president of the Wimberly Lavender Farm

Member Comments

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On May 14, 2008, publisher wrote:

Let’s hope the delegation has other more realistic and less naive members than Frank who is as excited as a schoolgirl who thinks she is going to meet Justin Timberlake.

Frank, do a little homework on Raul, Fidel and Cuba before you go and you just might realize why there hasn’t been an official visit from your State government for more than four decades.

You MIGHT meet Pedro Alvarez IF you’re lucky.

We welcome anyone from the delegation to post here upon their return.

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On May 14, 2008, publisher wrote:

There is also this story by ALFREDO CORCHADO from the Dallas Morning News

The state of Texas will send a trade delegation to Cuba in late May, the first official visit in more than 45 years and one that organizers hope will pave the way for broader trade in the years to come.

Led by Texas Department of Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, the 24-member delegation will include representatives from all sectors of Texas agriculture, including grain, cotton, beans, rice and cattle. The trip is scheduled for May 27-31, organizers said.

Trade prospects include airlines, oil, technology and tourism, sectors now banned under the nearly 50-year U.S. trade embargo of Cuba.

“Texas and Cuba used to have very strong commercial ties before the embargo,” said Cynthia Thomas, president of Dallas-based Tri Dimensions Strategies, a consulting firm. “This trip is intended to lay the foundation for renewing strong ties between our two economies.”

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On May 14, 2008, arteest wrote:

Is this the beginning of junk food in Cuba? :-(  Frank does sound really lame but at least there are some Texans out there who think going to Cuba is cool.

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On May 15, 2008, MiamiCuban wrote:

I think it’s great that economic ties start opening up, but I think it should go both ways.  The U.S. shouldn’t just sell goods to Cuba, it should also buy goods from Cuba—-that’s what FAIR trade is about.  I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing Cuban mangoes, papaya and pineapples at Publix.  The rum would be good, too.  And for you smokers out there, you should try the Romeo & Juliet cigarettes.

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On May 15, 2008, manfredz wrote:

also interesting….lets expand business ties with that bad bad Cuban government, because that’s good for business, but heaven help if an American tourist wants to go to that bad bad Cuba…....

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On May 15, 2008, J. Perez wrote:

My hope is that when the U.S. starts importing mangoes, papayas, rum & cigars as MiamiCuban points they should, the Cubans ask for payments in cash before shipments are made. What’s good for the goose is good for the gandor, right?

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On May 15, 2008, bernie wrote:

It makes me wonder, if the above Texans names that are mentioned, voted
Republican, support for the man who made going to Cuba difficult for many people, would possibly be considered a hypicocrite??????

Why don’t they lobby the USA to allow all citizens travel to Cuba instead of just these selected A-holes????/

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On May 15, 2008, MiamiCuban wrote:

J. Perez:  I agree - Cuba should ask for cash payments up front, too.